What is the reason behind, men saying שלא עשני אשה and women saying שעשני כרצונו in בּרכת השחר?

Does it mean that men are 'better' than women, as women don't say שלא עשני איש which would make sense? Not trying to sound sexist but is that not the logical conclusion?

Surely there are a number of 'feminist rights activists' who have come up with a politically correct interpretation why this practice isn't prejudiced against women.

  • Maybe women are better than men as men don't say שעשני כרצונו which would make sense. Could God not have wanted men to be created? Not trying to sound sexist but is that not the logical conclusion? God didn't want men? He just got stuck with them? Kinda like youtube.com/watch?v=9UoM3C6RfS4#t=526 – Double AA Jan 22 '15 at 3:24
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    See the wording of the Tur which says that the women had a custom to say it,it seems that women started to say such a bracha,I have no proof but see the lashon – sam Jan 22 '15 at 4:19
  • See the Tur here beta.hebrewbooks.org/tursa.aspx?a=oc_x124 – sam Jan 22 '15 at 4:27
  • @DoubleAA Your interpretation of שעשני כרצונו is incompatible with the fact that men say שלא עשני אשה. But if you interpret it as "I'm not as good, but at least I was created by G-d's Will," then it is compatible. – user6618 Jan 22 '15 at 18:27
  • @user6618 Why is it incompatible? The two brachot are completely unrelated. – Double AA Jan 22 '15 at 18:27

The reason is that women are obligated in fewer mitzvos than men. So Jewish men thank Hashem for not making them women, because we should be happy to have more opportunities for serving Hashem, rather than seeing it as a burden.

This is not a newfangled feminist interpretation. This is the original reasoning for why we say this bracha. This explanation (specifically, that men say shelo asani isha because women are obligated in fewer mitzvos) appears in the tosefta, which dates from before the Gemara was compiled, and in the Yerushalmi. (J.T. Berakhot 9:1; Tosefta Berakhot 6:18).

The fact that men have to do more mitzvos does not mean men are better -- on the contrary, some have argued that men need more mitzvos because men have a stronger evil inclination. Similarly, some argue that women do not need certain mitzvos such as tefillin because they are inherently more spiritual than men. http://www.aish.com/jl/m/w/Women--Mitzvot.html

I would also note that even if women have quantitatively fewer mitzvos which they are obligated to perform, this does not mean at all that the total number of mitzvos and maasim tovim that they accomplish will be less than a man. She might have fewer mitzvos overall to do, but she could do them more often (which I think women often do, given the countless acts of gemilus chasadim involved in care work, chesed volunteerism, and the helping professions).

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    Should a Kohen say an extra blessing too then? – CashCow Jan 22 '15 at 10:32
  • @CashCow No, because Chazal didn't say so...but perhaps with kohanim there's less of a risk they'll see their extra obligations as a burden, since they are honored specifically, by being first in aliyos and leading zimun for example. – Kordovero Jan 22 '15 at 15:11
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    Can you source "So Jewish men thank Hashem for not making them women, because we should be happy to have more opportunities for serving Hashem, rather than seeing it as a burden." You appear to source it in Tannaitic works, but I don't see it there. – Double AA Jan 22 '15 at 17:35
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    Can you address the Bavli instead of ignoring it? Its omission renders your answer rather incomplete. – Double AA Jan 22 '15 at 17:36
  • The Bavli is ambiguous; all it does is compare slaves and women and then say slaves are worse. Rashi gives both the women-have-fewer-mitzvos interpretation and the women-are-under-their-husband's-authority interpretation. I don't cite the Rashi here because it is not as ancient of an explanation, it's less likely to represent the true reasoning behind the bracha. The Tosefta and Yerushalmi are the only tannaitic sources that give a clear reason, and the Bavli doesn't contradict them. – Kordovero Jan 22 '15 at 17:44

This does not imply men are better than woman, this implies that men are better off than women.

This is apparently the intent of the first explanation of Rashi in Menachos 43b when the gemara says a slave is the same as a woman, Rashi says 'for she too is a servant to her husband like a save to his master'. Rashi's other explenation is the one cited in classic works of halacha starting with the Tur inn siman 46, but I would like to focus on this one.

Throughout history women have been subjugated and abused. This unfortunately seems to be ingrained in human nature. Whether you believe in a literal reading of the story in Eden or an allegorical one, at the end of the day the Torah was compelled to point out this unfortunate reality.

We in the modern world have learned to respect and appreciate women, but any step backwards proves the unfortunate reality, as seen in all backwards societies where the woman are subjected and abused.

It is in light of this unfortunate state that we thank Hashem for not putting us in that position. But we should remember that we can overcome all the curses of Eden. We can easy without sweating, we can raise children happily, and we can have equal partnerships with our spouses.

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    Interesting. Can you source this? – Double AA Jan 22 '15 at 16:36
  • @Double ^^^^^^ the pele yoetz says there are three types of chidushim. One is something you knew and forgot. When you see it again, it's a chidush! – user6591 Jan 22 '15 at 17:12
  • @user6591 In case you are interested, this reasoning is discussed in this essay by R' Henkin: books.google.com/… – Kordovero Jan 22 '15 at 17:35
  • @Kordovero thank you. I have one more haara to add before i read it though. Just in case he said it first, or contradicts me:) – user6591 Jan 22 '15 at 17:48

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